There is a little bit of Antigonish playing baseball in the NCAA for the Indiana Hoosiers.
And playing very well.
Matt Lloyd spent his early years in Nova Scotia before the family relocated to Alberta. His father, Steve, went to St. Francis Xavier and was a student manager with Steve Konchalski’s basketball team, and later was a manager with the national basketball team when Konchalski was the coach.
It’s been a bit of a journey to the Hoosiers for Matt Lloyd, but he’s happy where he is.
“It’s been a good fit for me,” said Lloyd, 21, in a recent interview from Bloomington, Ind.
Lloyd was born in Toronto but spent five or six years in Nova Scotia before the family headed west. He still has family in the Maritimes.
He’s the only Canadian on the Indiana team. He went to Iowa Western junior college for two years before moving on to Indiana, a Big 10 baseball power.
In his first year at Indiana, he’s batting .321 in 26 games, with seven home runs and 22 runs batted in. He leads all Indiana starters in slugging percentage at .619. He’s pitching, too, and has a 2.30 earned-run average in 16 innings.
In March, the former Team Canada junior team player was selected as the Big 10 player of the week and the national player of the week. He batted .643 for the week with nine hits, four home runs and saved two games on the mound.
“For as long as I can remember, I wanted to play (NCAA) Division 1 baseball. Now I’m actually doing it, which is pretty crazy to think about.”
Indiana began its season in late February, beating the winter chill in Arizona. There are 13 teams in the conference, with Minnesota, Nebraska, Michigan, Maryland and Purdue some of the main rivals.
Indiana is competitive within the conference, last attending the College World Series in 2013. They’ve had decent playoff runs since then without getting back to the championship.
“Hopefully, we can get to the College World Series this year,” said Lloyd, who bats left but throws right. “That would be really cool.”
He said NCAA baseball continues a progression from his national team days and junior college. His junior college team was a perennial national contender.
“I’d just say it’s the next step up from junior college baseball. The pitching is definitely a little bit better. They have the ability to locate their pitches more effectively. But it’s not a huge step from junior college to here.”
He red-shirted in his first year in junior college after undergoing elbow ligament reconstruction (Tommy John) surgery in his throwing arm. It means he has three seasons of eligibility at Indiana if he chooses to use them.
He has never been drafted into major league baseball. But that’s where he wants to end up.
“I definitely want to play some pro baseball,” he said. “This program has been great for attracting pro scouts.”